The icon & Heritage listed Connellan Airways hangar, a feature of this aviation precinct was erected in 1940/41 at what was called Townsite aerodrome, serving as the main base of operations for the Connellan Airways (later Connair) until all operations ceased in June 1968. Townsite & nearby landing strips were unsuitable for larger aircraft operations now needed to service the growing town of Alice Springs. The airline was forced to move to what is now referred to as Seven Mile aerodrome before eventually moving to the site of the present airport.
By 1977, there was little evidence of the runways and the Connellan hangar was in a sad state of repair becoming a haven for squatters and a target for vandals, becoming derelict. The nearby runways disappeared under the rapid expansion of the town, including Memorial Avenue fronting the aviation museum precinct.
The founding of the Central Australian Aviation Museum in 1977 soon changed this situation. Motivated by the tragic suicide flight into the Connair engineering complex at the Alice Springs Airport by a disgruntled pilot on 5 January, a working committee was formed to reclaim and restore the hangar. In-kind and monetary support donated by many people to recognize the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in that terrible event willingly paid $50 membership ($300 at today’s value) without question or guarantee. It was not long before work commenced in earnest.
The Connellan Airways hangar was open as a museum in May 1979 thanks to vital financial assistance from the NT Government along with the terrific public response.
The original of the larger adjoining hangar, the Bellman hangar, was dismantled and relocated at the Connair’s new location. The one on-site is a replica. Other infrastructure was added over the years including the Kookaburra memorial and Heron hangar. Since opening, many exhibits have developed and displayed as well as the acquisition of aircraft, engines, components, historical photographs, papers, and videos.
We invite people to visit the aviation precinct free of charge (donations are most welcome) and find out about the extraordinary history of pioneering aviation which ‘took off’ from Townsite and the role it played in the development of Central Australia.